Creativity / Making Lemonade / Writing

Making Lemonade #21: What’s in a name?

Perfectionism, procrastination, and meeting our edges

Cross-posted from SubstackView original post.

Hey friends,

This week I discovered, buried in the archives, the first post I ever wrote for this fledgling dream of a Substack, way back in March 2023.

Back then, it wasn’t Making Lemonade. It wasn’t actually called anything.

Although the pages of my notebook were covered with scribbled-out ideas, it was still just an unnamed dream; an anonymous goal. A silent whisper of an idea. One of many that had been hidden in the wings for years; like secrets I’d become afraid to speak aloud.

Reading the post felt like coming face-to-face with an old friend. The words still as relevant as they were back then; albeit time-stamped with memories of where I was a year ago; with who I was a year ago.

Like many who’ve attempted Julia Cameron’s The Artists’s Way, I didn’t make it to the end of the 12 weeks. I made it to Week 11, and when I saw the words “read back through your Morning Pages”, I slammed the book closed.

I fully intended to go back, I really did. But I wasn’t ready then to meet who I was on the page. And so, while my morning brain dumps continued – and still do, to this day, although they’ve dropped down to a page or two, rather than three – I’ve never actually read back over any of them.

While, on a very rare occasion, I might find myself pulling at a thread interesting enough to make it into one of my other notebooks – I have many on the go at once – the majority of the words exist solely as a purge; never intended to be read again.

On the other hand, this post was meant to be read. I hadn’t scribbled it into a journal, I’d typed it out. Edited it. Formatted it. Read it aloud, to see if it flowed.

And then, I’d left it languishing in the aether, waiting until I had a name. Waiting until the time was right. Waiting for the stars to align.

But of course, they never did.

Six months later, when I finally stumbled upon a name and launched this Substack, the dream had already evolved into something different.

Reading the post, though, felt like reconnecting with a past version of me. One who had just started her dream of running writing workshops, who was still filled with silent, unnamed whispers of dreams and ideas; who had no idea that a year later she’d be living them.

It reminded me of how far I’ve come. And also a little regretful that, even though these are all things I wanted for a long time, I had to reach my breaking point for things to finally change.

I guess that’s life, though, sometimes we’re forced to meet our edges. Edges aren’t meant to be soft. Gentle. They’re usually hard, challenging. Abrasive. Transformative.

A reminder that initiations were never meant to be easy.

Nature is full of edges; like fiery sunsets that mark the transition between daylight and darkness

A few weeks ago, my niece was born.

Just like this Substack, my website, my creative life, my travelling years, my homecoming, my partner, my cat, the book I’m writing, and almost all the other things I’ve dreamed of in my life; I knew her as an idea long before I knew her name.

In this case, she was a dream, a seemingly endless series of injections, surgeries, and hospital visits, a growing belly, a blurry Ultrasound photo, an anxious wait for updates, and finally, a snap of a swaddled newborn, sent through a phone screen.

Births are such a lauded occasion that it’s easy to miss seeing them as an edge, too, but they are.

A departure from the warmth of the womb to a cold sterile world; an arrival heralded by latex-covered hands, bright lights, and beeping machines.

Three lives changed, in an instant. Many more, if you count the rest of the family.

I was only two when my sister was born, but I can almost imagine the trill of the corded house phone; my dad calling from a payphone at the hospital, congratulating me (via my grandma) on becoming a big sister, sharing her name like a hard-won prize.

Now though, my sister and her wife could send a photo halfway across the world instantaneously, while keeping her name a secret for another day.

A day of whispering it between the two of them; trying it on for size, sounding it out, seeing if it fit the tiny precious human they held in their arms.

If I’m honest, I don’t really like babies. I don’t think I have a maternal bone in my body. But this one feels pretty special – and not just because her arrival has brought glimmers of light back into our fractured family; called us back from the darkest edges of our Alzheimer’s journey; and reminded us that there is still wonder and hope in the world.

Her name too, feels like hope. Skyla. Sky.

A reminder to look up. To let the sun and the stars light our way as they have for all who have come before us – and all who will come after.

But also, a reminder that a name is everything and nothing, all at the same time. Not knowing her name for a few days didn’t make her any less special. Any less magical. Any less whole.

The name Skyla feels like a good reminder for me to keep looking up, even when times get tough

As a recovering perfectionist, the obsession I had with names feels pretty silly, but, for years, it was paralysing.

It took me 15 years to build my website because I was waiting for the right name. As it turned out, my own name was perfect – but maybe I just needed 15 years to grow into it.

15 years to realise that this whole naming thing was a form of perfectionism and procrastination that I’d built up in my head.

15 years to realise it was an excuse I’d made to keep myself playing small because all the other travel blogs I so admired when I was 18 had pithy or silly names and had built their successes around them. couldn’t think of one, and so obviously that meant I wasn’t ready.

Despite going on to make a fairly successful freelance career – under my own name, incidentally – it was a story I kept repeating until September last year when I finally hit my wall, and everything else came tumbling down, too.

Like most of these ingrained stories, it usually takes something big for us to rewrite them.

For me, it was a hefty case of burnout combined with a chronic pain flare-up. Like I’d met my edge in my body, mind, and spirit.

I’d just returned from a challenging trip to the UK to visit my family and see my mum, who had declined considerably since I’d been back the year before.

Even after years of being a long-distance carer, it’s still hard to see her in person. But almost harder still, is the revelation that, after seven years of travel being my whole life, my overseas adventures have now been distilled into a single annual trip that hurts my heart more than it fills it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I also felt burned out in my travel writing career. I felt like I’d been giving all my ideas and creativity away; selling my soul to the highest bidder – and sometimes the lowest one too (trips halfway across the planet aren’t cheap).

I’d taken a big step in the direction of my dreams and had started running writing workshops – which rekindled the spark in me like nothing else – but my most recent one had flopped, and I was finding it hard not to take it personally.

still had no website, no audience, no clients. No Substack. No name.

Whenever I feel stuck and meet my edges, I find going on a bike ride helps me shift the energy and get things moving again

And so, I went on a bike ride, which is my usual go-to when things get too much. I never set out with a plan for where I want to go, I just get on my bike and figure it out as I go.

On this day, I took one left, and then another, and then passed a lemon tree.

I must’ve ridden, driven, and walked past this lemon tree many times over the years, but I’d never really noticed it before. But that day, I stopped beside it. As I did, I noticed one perfect lemon that had fallen off the tree, rolled under the fence, and ended up right next to me.

Making Lemonade was born.

A week later, I published my first post. A week after that, I started my website. 21 weeks – and 22 posts – later, I’ve got a Substack. I’ve got a website. I’m growing my audience. I’ve got some creative mentoring clients. I’ve got a new niece. And I’m happier than I’ve been in ages.

All it took was 15 years, a hard edge, and a lemon.

Something to ponder: Are there any edges you’re rubbing against at the moment? Can you step away – like going on a walk or a bike ride or spending time looking at the sky – and find a new way in? A way to see the edges as a doorway to where you want to be, rather than a wall holding you back.

Love always,

Cassie x

If you enjoyed reading this post, please like, comment, subscribe, and share with your friends. And, if you want any help bringing your whispered dreams to life or navigating your hard edges, feel free to check out my creative mentoring services.

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